Our 2nd trip to Aruba, stayed at the Radisson first time and this time decided to try all-inclusive and decided on the occidental. I was a little nervous with all the mixed reviews I read....
1st day arrived about 2pm, very long line through customs this time, by the time we arrived at the Occidental it was 4pm. Very long line to check in by the time we were done, it was 5pm. Me, my husband and 12yr old daughter were
very hungry, exhausted, etc. We were told the lunch buffet stopped at 5pm and dinner didn't start until 6:30pm. We were then told all the restuarants were booked that night. We decided to eat at the Hard Rock. Tried to get a good night's sleep but was awakened through out the night by sounds from the hallway, loud talking, laughing, and even sounds of someone puking in the hallway around 3am....
2nd day went to the concierge to try and book the restuarants for dinner. Was told that everything was booked that night and the oriental and Italian restaurants were booked the entire length of our stay. I became upset and asked to speak to a manager, I paid for all inclusive and yet I was unable to
enjoy the restuarants they had to offer? A lady walked over and booked us in a different restaurant each night. It seemed the royal club visitors could book without problems, and the interesting thing was all the empty tables when we were at dinner. Went to the De Palms building to try and book water activities that are included in the all-inclusive, at that point I wasn't too surprised when everything was booked the entire length of our stay. Then tried to get a palapa on the beach, again wasn't surprised when there were none available. I was warned by several people that you have to get up at the crack of dawn to get a palapa and that was certainly true. We were at the beach by 8 or 9am each day and we were never able to get one until later in the day when people starting leaving. I refused to get up at the crack of dawn! The beach area is much smaller than the Radisson, very crowded and the water was much cloudier than I remember last time...good thing about the Occidental grounds is the pool, loved the pool and the swim up bar was great! We had dinner that night at the Caribbean restuarant which was pretty bad. The crab cake appetizer was terrible and my husband had the grouper which was way over cooked. Very disappointed with that restaurant...
3rd day had a great day at the beach and the pool. The breakfast and lunch buffets weren't too bad just depending on what time you go could be long lines to be seated. The pool area had different activities planned each day, bingo, water volleyball, trivia questions for prizes, etc. The great thing about the all-inclusive was the drinks, the swim up bar had a "drink of the day" every day and my daughter enjoyed getting a virgin pina colada or strawberry daiquiri. We ate at the Oriental restuarant that night which was quite good. We were pleasantly surprised. We decided to watch one of the shows that was going on that night at the Occidental. The show was a type of Cirque de Soleil type show with the performers doing different types of stunts, etc. It was nothing like Las Vegas, but my daughter enjoyed it and it was something to do.
4th day was my favorite day...we were able to get snorkeling gear that morning and we decided to rent a jeep for 2 days, which I highly recommend to anyone. There is so much to see outside of the resort...we drove up towards Arashi beach and stopped off where the sailing, snorkeling excursions were docked. We snorkeled along with the sailing boats and then drove up to a little beach area with palapa's and very few people. This was my favorite part...it was absolute paradise. There were very few people and the water was crystal clear, absolutely beautiful!!! I could of stayed there all day...We decided that night to eat off the resort and we had made reservations at the Flying Fishbone, which I would recommend to anyone...The dinner was absolutely wonderful! My husband had the chilean sea bass and me and my daughter had the shrimp blue cheese casserole which is a favorite, absolute perfection. Be prepared for the price at the Flying Fishbone..It was a perfect evening to a perfect day..
5th day the weather did not cooperate that day...we had to rent snorkeling gear that day cuz none were available at De Palm. FYI you can rent snorkel gear next to the Radisson hotel at the Dive shop for $16/day. We drove down to Baby beach, had to put the top up on the jeep cuz it rained on the way there. We snorkeled at baby beach which was great snorkeling, and baby beach is also sooo beautiful! We then went downtown, did some shopping, etc. The weather was overcast, raining, most of the day but around 7pm the clouds broke and we were able to catch a beautiful sunset on the beach..We ate at the Italian restaurant that night. We were looking forward to it cuz I had heard that this was the best restaurant of them all at the Occidental. The service was great but I ordered the beef tenderloin well done and it came out extremely rare. But the waiter apologized, took it back and brought a new one close to well done. Overall the Italian restaurant was okay.
6th day, enjoyed the pool in the morning then packed up and left for the airport. We got to the airport 3 hours early and thank god we did cuz the lines were extremely long. By the time we got to the gate we had about 20 minutes before we boarded. FYI, make sure you have plenty of time when leaving....
Overall, the beach, the aruban people were as great as I remember the 1st time. About the hotel, I was not impressed with the food but I did enjoy the room and the pool. I also had heard bad things about the service, and for us I thought the service was pretty good. Our room was cleaned each day with fresh towels. Despite the food, the service in the restaurants were pretty good but our next trip I will not stay here again. It was too crowded and I did not feel the value for your money was good...I feel depressed today as I did last time, will have to start booking our next trip....
Sorry you had to come home so soon, but thanks for taking the time to write a review
Flying Fishbone, which I would recommend to anyone...The dinner was absolutely wonderful! My husband had the chilean sea bass and me and my daughter had the shrimp blue cheese casserole which is a favorite, absolute perfection.
We got to the airport 3 hours early and thank god we did cuz the lines were extremely long. By the time we got to the gate we had about 20 minutes before we boarded. FYI, make sure you have plenty of time when leaving....
Ah the dreaded Saturday departure. Thank you so much for posting this as a reminder for everyone.
I have heard about this issue with all inclusive resorts. They work in Jamaica where you fear leaving your hotel "compound" but in Aruba, there are too many great restaurants to choose from to be stuck eating at the Chuck Wagon Buffet.
I highly recommend the next time you go, try the low rise area on Eagle Beach. You can rent directly from timeshare owners or from the resorts themselves. You get a lot more for your money and a much larger beach area. During week 27 which isn't peak but not slow either, you can get Palapas as late as 10AM.
We take our own cheap snorel gear now. It doesn't take up too much luggage space and the cheap stuff we got is much better than the rental gear you get down there. Plus, think where that snorkel was before you used it. Like you did, we hit the snorkel areas before all the booze cruises came in. It was much more relaxed and it was free.
Oh my goodness! I'm sorry to hear about all the difficulties you had booking restaurants, palapas and activities. It makes me very happy that took the advice of renting a timeshare in the low rise area. I was beginning to second guess that choice and feeling a little worried that I made the wrong decision (I'm one of those people who orders food at a restaurant, sees the food arrive at the next table, decide it looks yummy and then runs after the waitress to change my order. lol!)
Overall, it seems that you enjoyed yourself though and I'm very appreciative that you took the time to post your review. It really helps newbies like me when members take the time to do so.